Dawn comes and Yésica puts on the most comfortable clothes and shoes. With his two children, he tried to be one of the first to buy a plantain burro ( sponge, in the east of the country) and cassava in the agricultural fair that they hold every Saturday in the Micro 9 neighborhood, in the José Martí District, in Santiago de Cuba. The woman anxiously awaits the arrival of the truck with the products to “not spoil the weather this week,” but her plan is one thing and the outcome will be another.
“People are running ready to be dragged by the truck, if they don’t starve they will die crushed,” complained Yésica. To reach the car, still in motion, and place yourself among the first customers, “you have to be a ninja,” he acknowledged, although in his case, like many others who came to the fair, “the survival instinct is not believe in danger”.
Organized by the city authorities, the fair is not a peaceful place and several times the Police intervene, as happened this Saturday. The relatively low price of food, cheaper than private squares, caused an uncontrollable flood of people. A pound of burro plantain and cassava costs 15 pesos, as opposed to 80 pesos demanded by private companies. The two products became the salvation of many households in the area.
The food was necessary to occupy the space that could not be filled with the scarce five pounds of rice distributed in the supply book. That amount of cereal is barely enough for several days and Yésica assures that she cannot always buy the product at 200 pesos per pound, which is the current price of cereal in the informal market.
“I go to the fair with my children and we buy cassava and fongo for 15 pesos. That helped us stretch the little rice they gave us,” explained Yésica. “And we still had that for breakfast. If there is no bread, I fry cassava for the boys in the morning, because sometimes I can’t buy bread. “At least I need six loaves of bread a day and that costs 150 pesos.”
Physical skills, youth and some injuries are necessary to fill the bag. On Saturday, the 16-year-old son of this Santiago woman was caught in a moving car and “took a place nearby, like number 15.” Behind the truck you can see every Saturday a line that can speed up the run or run, there are also people with crutches, mothers carrying small children and the elderly.
“That day, even though my son did one of the first, I arrived here at home around 12 noon and they made it fair very close,” added Yésica, referring to others who happened in different parts of the city but for ” How bad the transportation is, it’s not worth the effort to see what they sell there,” explained the woman.
On the same day, Evaristo, another resident of the District, spoke 14 intervene that “they even give out tickets for MURDERING and they sell only six pounds of cassava and 10 of sponge per person so that everyone gets a little, because otherwise, the first ones keep everything and you can see that they sell the pound for 60 pesos.
But, more than having more nimble legs or small children, hunger hits everyone, says Evaristo. For his part, another 68-year-old resident summarized the violent daily life in Santiago de Cuba: “Today I tell my nephew who lives in Spain, people walk the streets like to the fool who has transportation, without money, but above all, without food. They faint even on the buses. In my grandson’s school, the children faint every day because they don’t have breakfast and they can’t bring snack.”
“The boy told me that at his best friend’s house there is a law: ‘He who has lunch does not eat (lunch)’ and he leaves the main dish at night and eats anything for lunch,” he added.